Sitting in a hostel in Miraflores, Lima, with a shower, kitchen, and city life around me, it”s easy to forget the wonders of the jungle. No more cans of Deet, no more satisfying the need to itch, and no more bathing in the river. No matter whether you consider the former or the latter as perks of life, I”m sure my fellow CU Peru members can agree we lose something important when we step out of the jungle. I for one miss the unmatched hospitality of the people – we were constantly invited into people´s homes to break bread with them, enjoy some delicious coffee, or just to chat about differences between our hometowns and theirs. It´s magical to have a whole classroom of young children come to us just to sing the songs they recently learned in school. But what I will miss most is every community´s burning desire to improve, build, mobilize, and live symbiotically with one another and their land.
Although we have returned to “normal” life, our friends in the Napo River communities continue to live with the day-to-day struggle of inadequate health care. But, this is not a problem that is unique to the Loreto region of Peru, rather it´s a problem we face in our own backyards, then why should they receive special attention? I discovered the answer to this question while visiting Centro Unido, a community along the Napo River of around 70 people. Centro Unido has a treated water source (thanks to the NGO CONAPAC), a central square with two soccer fields, and a schoolhouse. There are two health promoters and the community residents are only a 15 minute walk away from a health post. On the surface the community is quite advanced in comparison to some others. However, peeling away the layers, we found more than meets the eye. During our visit, one of the promoters was away for 4 days on a work trip (a normal occurrence since the promoters are only volunteers and must work to provide for their family) The other promoter had difficulty taking a pulse, not because he didn”t understand the technique, but because he couldn”t read the small numbers on the digital watch we provided him during the training. Although the residents are just a walk away from the health post, many had resorted to using best online casino plant medicine when the medicine they received in the health post did not treat their children”s illness sufficiently. This could be due to the fact that the community and the health post are about 6 hours by boat away from the health clinic in Mazan. Such isolation leaves the tecnico to treat illnesses better suited for the clinic, and the residents to travel to the clinic only under grave circumstances. Just imagine if your pharmacy around the corner was out of Tylenol (often occurs in the health posts) and you had to drive 6 hours, or even one hour! I know this would cause me to second guess whether I was really sick enough.
For these reasons and so many more that we have yet to uncover, the communities of the Napo River are starving for improved health care. This change must begin with the local health promoter. A man or woman that is knowledgable, respected, and available. Only such a person can decide whether a child is really sick and needs to travel to the health post and then convince the family that they must take the time to do so as well (often a more difficult task than triaging). Only such a person can petition for a change of the health habits of their community. Without the right training and continued support, these promoters are under utilized, but most importantly the people of their community don”t get what they deserve; adequate health care.